Cornelius in Fausset's Bible Dictionary
Centurion of the Italian band or cohort at Caesarea (Acts
10); "devout and one that feared God with all his house": he
ordered not merely himself but all his family in God's ways.
Compare Genesis 18:19; Joshua 24:15. He had made the most of
his spiritual opportunities; for coming to the Holy Land a
heathen, when he knew of the true God there he became a true
proselyte. Now "whosoever hath to him shall be given"
(Matthew 13:12; Isaiah 64:5; Micah 2:7; John 7:17). So,
"giving much alms to the people," which showed the self
sacrificing sincerity of his religion, and "praying to God
always," he was vouchsafed a further revelation, namely, the
gospel, through Peter's instrumentality.
A vision to Cornelius desiring him to send to Joppa
for Peter, and a vision to Peter on the morrow, just as
Cornelius' messengers, two household servants and "a devout
soldier of them that waited on him continually" (for he
followed David's rule, Psalm 101:6), were drawing nigh the
city, instructing him to regard as clean those whom "God had
cleansed," though heretofore ceremonially "unclean," and
desiring him to go with Cornelius' messengers "doubting
nothing," prepared the way. Whatever uncertainty there might
be of the miraculous nature of either vision by itself,
there can be none of the two mutually supporting each other.
While Peter preached Jesus to them the Holy Spirit fell on
all who heard. This left no doubt as to the propriety of
baptizing these Gentile proselytes of the gate with
Thus Peter showed in act what Jesus meant by His
promise, "I will give unto thee the keys of the kingdom of
heaven, and whatsoever (ceremonies) thou shalt bind (declare
obligatory), etc., loose (declare not so), etc., shall be
bound ... loosed." The question which perplexed the early
church was not whether Gentiles might, become Christians
(for that was plainly declared Mark 16:15; Luke 24:47), but
whether they could be admitted without circumcision.
Cornelius' case decided this (Acts 11:17; Acts 10:28; Acts
Cornelius already "knew" by hearsay of Jesus'
preaching (Acts 10:36-37); but now the faith was
authoritatively declared to and accepted by him. An
undesigned coincidence (a mark of truth) is to be observed
in comparing "four days ago," Acts 10:30, with Acts 10:9;
Acts 10:23-24, front which it incidentally comes out that
four days in all intervened between Cornelius' vision and
Peter's arrival, two days in going to Joppa and two in
returning, just as Cornelius states. Cornelius, representing
Roman nationality and force, was peculiarly fitted to be the
first Gentile convert, the firstfruits of the harvest that
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